Monday, 19 March 2018


Our gratitude to Kottke who rummaged up this heartening article from the archives of the Atlantic regarding a municipal project in Melbourne that had some unexpectedly touching outcomes.
The superintendent of the city’s parks and gardens assigned individual, monitored email addresses to every tree on public and private land so that residents could report potential problems—like an errant branch threatening to snap a power line.  Instead, however, Melbourne was rather overwhelmed with affectionate and appreciative correspondence from humans to their arboreal neighbours. Most of the messages were one way, but city officials took the time to answer some of the senders’ inquiries, especially when there was a teachable moment—such as explaining the concept of gender in trees. I wonder if this initiative continues, and it is also positive to note that the interconnected Internet of Things is not just potentially paternalistic and judgmental but can also elicit notice, empathy and protective instincts and elevate things above their utility.


Via Hyperallergic’s required reading, we discover that though overshadowed by other culinary influences presently that Portugal has played an outsized role in world gastronomy. Dishes that we consider a tradition staple of Japanese dining—fried vegetables or tempura (天ぷら)—was introduced by Portuguese traders who had a presence in Japan for about a century until being banished in 1639 for proselytizing, the ruling shogunate believing that Christianity was a threat to a stable society.
The recipe adapted from peixnhos da horta (little fish of the garden) for battered and fried green beans came to be known as tempura is etymologically tied to Christianity, being a Lenten substitute for a filling meal for those too poor to afford actual fish as a break from fasting, coming from the Latin tempora which indicated the time for abstaining. Improvising Portuguese canteen operators also whipped up a spicy, wine marinated pork dish called carne de vinha d’alhos, which in the former colonial outpost of Goa in India informed the reimport vindaloo. Be sure and visit BBC Travel at the link up top for recipes and to learn more.

Sunday, 18 March 2018


A retrospective of the work of the artist Grant Wood, who is now accorded iconic-status for his piece American Gothic, prompts a conversation with the exhibitions curators and a cultural historian whose undertaken an extensive study of the sociological milieu that informs both painting and audience and explores how public reception of Wood has transformed from a generally negative one interpreting Wood’s statement as one of disrespect and disdain for small-town America to something that represents the nation’s deepest-held values.
The motors of this change was both the artist being forced to defend his portrayals and character- isations and a paradigm shift experienced by civil society as a whole that saw honest and hard work arguably ennobled. The exchange, however, does not limit itself to this one portrait and looks across his entire visual repertoire to glean examples of the artist’s sense of irony and playfulness. The 1939 work pictured is called “Parson Weems’ Fable” and indulges some of America’s foundation myths—but so bizarrely, it’s rather beyond interpretation with the Gilbert Stuart version of Washington’s face superimposed on a young boy Invasion of the Body-Snatchers-style and could probably use some unpacking. The title refers to the book agent whom wrote the first unauthorized biography of the president just after his death in 1799 and famously embellished his life’s history with quite a few apocryphal anecdotes. Be sure to visit the link to the whole interview from Hyperallergic at the link up top to learn more.


sprezzatura: the philosophical significance of elegnace 

westward ho: artist explores the mythos of the expanded settlement of American territory through miniature landscapes of faux furs

biopic: a look at the life and times of Patrick Wayne 

saints preserve us: let’s not make it a thing to say one’s been blessed by the algorithm

since sixt week j learn the englich and j do not any progress: admirably, whilst in exile on Saint Helena, General Napoleon endeavoured to learn the English language  

the architecture of choice: a data analyst comes forward to reveal how a strategic communications company subverts the democratic process 

rajneeshpuram: they’ve made a documentary featuring that Oregon-based utopian cult of the early 1980s 

night fever: an exhibition on five decades of discos and clubbing opens in Weil am Rhein